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Monday, June 24, 2024

No ticket to London for Olympians' parents

It’s official — tennis ace Sania Mirza’s mother Naseema Mirza is going to the Olympics as the tennis team’s manager. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has justified its decision saying, “With her vast experience and India having two lady members in the Olympic team, she was considered the best person to be nominated to look after India’s women team consisting of Sania and Rushmi Chakravarthi.”


But it cannot be denied that the move is more to appease Sania, after she was offered as “a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis” (that’s what Sania had said in her press release, following the controversy). The point of contention now is, while Sania has managed to have her mother accompany her as the manager of the team, family members of other sportspeople participating in the Olympics, do not even have passes for the respective events.Accreditation is given only to the managementWorld No. 5 Saina Nehwal’s father, Dr Harvir Singh, who had earlier told us that he would accompany his daughter to the Olympics, has now changed his mind. “Yes, initially I did think I would go, but what will I do there? I will watch Saina play on TV. I have accompanied Saina in other tournaments, but for the Olympics, players’ family members do not get any tickets or passes. The government and the Olympic association give accreditation only to the teams’ management. Hence, I am not going to the Olympics.”There has been no announcement yetFirst-time Olympian and badminton player Parupalli Kashyap has been trying to get passes for his parents to join him in London, but has not got any yet. “I have been trying to get passes for my family, but there has been no announcement about it till now. I hear there are changes in rules as far as giving passes to the family is concerned.”__PAGEBREAK__I have managed six passesAnother medal hope, Jwala Gutta, is one of those lucky ones who have managed to get passes for the Olympics, not just for her family, but for her friends too. “I have got two passes from the Badminton Association of India for my family, and my sponsors have arranged four more passes for my friends. Everything is in place. They are all going to be in London with me.”I am told the passes will be given in LondonShuttler Ashwini Ponn appa, who is training hard to give her best at the Olympics, says, “I have just got to know that passes for the event for my family will be given in London. My mom and dad are paying for their flight tickets to Lon don anyway.”I have no idea whether family can come or notA strong medal hope, boxer Vijender Singh, who has earlier brought laurels to the country when he won bronze at the Beijing Olympics, has nothing much to say about getting passes for his family to the Olympics. “I haven’t got any passes. None of my family members are going to London. Moreover, I have no idea whether players actually get passes for their families or not.”We know we won’t get passes for our familiesThey are champions in a lesser-known sport — rowing. And hence, they themselves are less popular, something that does bother them. When asked whether any of their family members were going to be in London, Manjeet Singh, Sandeep Kumar and Sawran Singh — the three rowers who will be competing at the Olympics — said, “We don’t even try for passes because we know we will never get them. We see families of other sportspersons at major tournaments and, we feel bad that our families can’t make it there, but we are always treated like this.”Wow! Sania’s mother is going as the manager?That was how boxer Mary Kom reacted when we told her about the AITA’s decision. “I am really surprised!” she said, adding, “My husband told me that a family member can accompany the player to the Olympics. He has spoken to someone in the Indian Olympic Association, but there has been no reply. My mother and husband are anyway coming with me to the Olympics. Their travel expenses have been taken care of by my sponsor. But I don’t know what to do about the passes.”

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